Rocket Man helps animators reap reward - Metro US

Rocket Man helps animators reap reward

Sir Elton John was waxing so eloquently on Ontario’s burgeoning film animation industry yesterday that Premier Dalton McGuinty jokingly offered him a cabinet post.

The music star and the politician were at Starz Animation — which is producing a new animated movie called Gnomeo and Juliet for John’s film development firm — and teamed up as McGuinty gave Starz a $23 million grant to create new jobs. John said he picked Starz, one of Canada’s largest 3D animation studios, from a long list of similar companies in the industry and was “overwhelmingly blown away … Ontario is a hotbed of talent.”

Noting that many Ontarians have left their country to seek opportunities in show business elsewhere, John predicted “you’ll find people will be coming back to Canada.”

That was all McGuinty needed to hear after last week’s surprise resignation of Michael Bryant from cabinet to head the city agency Invest Toronto.

“I have a new opening in my cabinet for a minister of economic development,” the premier quipped to John, who appeared in concert with Billy Joel at the Air Canada Centre last night.

“Are you available, Sir Elton?”

The aid money from Ontario’s $1 billion next generation jobs fund will help the company, which opened in 2007, create and preserve about 250 jobs. Digital media is one of the growing industries McGuinty is focusing on to produce jobs. Ontario’s animation industry employs about 2,000 people, many from college programs in the Toronto area.

McGuinty noted his history with John goes back a long way to his high school in Ottawa, where Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was playing when he one day approached a pretty girl he’d had his eye on.

“Eight track, was it?” John joked back at the premier, who explained that high school girl is Terri McGuinty, his wife and mother of their four grown children.

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